Author Archives: keith.hansen

Spreading Japanese Plum Yew

I’d like to introduce you to a different kind of evergreen groundcover that may fill a niche in your landscape. If you are originally from more northern parts of the U.S., you are no doubt familiar with the common evergreen shrub known as Yew (Taxus), which does not fare well in our area. Similar in appearance, but much more tolerant of our southern heat is Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus). This is a great plant that deserves wider use in the South. Plum yews have feathery, dark evergreen, needle-like… Read More →

Get Ready for Azalea Season

Despite the recent cold and cloudy weather slowing down the start of our azalea blooming season, the official Tyler Azalea Trail annual celebration kicks off Sunday, March 22 with a ribbon cutting at the Pyron’s lovely garden on Dobbs Street in Tyler. Some nice sunny and warm days should speed up bud break and the wonderful display, not only on the Tyler Azalea Trail, but all across our region. I have written about azaleas many times before, and why not? Our climate and soils are so well-suited for… Read More →

Don’t Guess – Soil Test

As the gardening season gears up, one of the common questions we get as A&M AgriLife Extension agents is about fertilizing our plants. Vegetables, fruit trees, flowers and lawns all need an adequate amount of nutrients to grow and deliver peak performance. You can have a plant with the best genetics, but if it is “starving”, it will not grow as expected. While we might be able provide generalities about a particular plant’s nutrient needs, we are not going to have a clue about your particular soil’s nutrient… Read More →

By Moon or President’s Day, It’s Time to Plant Potatoes

Whether its according to the phase of the moon, or by George Washington’s birthday, mid -February is time to plant Irish potatoes. The Almanac indicates February 10-17 as moon-favorabile dates for planting potatoes, and those who garden according to the weather say about 4 weeks before average last freeze, both put it about now for potato planting time! Potatoes grow and produce best between 60 and 75 degrees during the day and 45 to 55 degrees at night, which doesn’t happen for very long each spring. Potatoes must… Read More →

Time to Plant Onions

How sweet it is – Noonday Sweet Onions, that is. You don’t have to live in Noonday, Texas to grow your own crop of tasty onions, though. Several factors are involved in producing a successful onion crop. The first factor for success is planting the right varieties. Onion varieties are classified as short-day, long-day and intermediate. Plant the wrong type, and you won’t get a bulb! Short-day onion varieties are the best for our area, although intermediate types will also produce bulbs here in northeast Texas. One of… Read More →

Anticipate Springtime with Early Bloomers

Like so many others, I’m ready for cold weather to go away and pleasant spring weather to arrive. Just be thankful you don’t live any further north where winter hangs on for what seems an eternity. I am also thankful for the many early bloomers that brave the cold to cheer the soul at this sometimes dreary time of year. You might find a spot in your yard for some of these to help chase away the winter blues. Deciduous Magnolias. What a gift these wonderful small trees… Read More →

Dormant Oil Sprays

Winter time is prime time to apply, if needed, a dormant oil spray to deciduous fruit, nut and certain landscape trees and shrubs to control scale and other insect pests. Horticultural oils are highly refined petroleum products for controlling scale, mites and other overwintering insects and their eggs on plants. Horticultural oils work mainly by coating pests with a suffocating film of fine oil. Their toxic action is more physical than chemical and is short-lived. Horticultural oils for controlling insect pests have been around for many decades. Initially,… Read More →

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale’s Enemy

Parking at a local restaurant today, I noticed the blackened trunks of some topped crape myrtles – the tell-tale sign they were infested with crape myrtle bark scale. This relatively new pest to the U.S. has been rapidly spreading across the south. A horticulture friend commented he saw infested crape myrtles at the new mall on the south side of town. I checked them out, and while the trunks were blackened, there was no sign of living scale. These scales are bright white, and when squished, they ooze… Read More →